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Hey, Kids! Politics can be fun(ny)!

Politics is a minefield for young minds, but it certainly isn’t boring, and it can actually be pretty funny if you ask Tatton Spiller, Founder of kids' stage show. Simple Politics. We caught up with him to find out more…

Tatton (left) and Tiernan (right)

Former teacher, Tatton Spiller and comedian, Tiernan Douieb, joined forces to create Simple Politics – a stage show designed to get kids clued up on the serious stuff without getting, well, too serious. It’s coming to Watford Palace theatre this month – here’s everything you need to know.

So what’s the inspiration behind the show? 

We just wanted to have some fun! There are so many people sternly (imagine your most boring and strict voice) telling everyone: ‘politics is very important and you need to learn all about MPs doing important things’…

As a teacher I was doing loads of school assemblies about the stuff that matters. Y’know… democracy, bins, sweets, the right to share your individual opinion in a clear and well supported way. Then Tiernan [Tatton’s on stage partner] and I came together to do the show, taking it away from the teacher assembly style. He is much funnier than me. Annoyingly so! With him on hand to mock me and bring some chaos, it became possible to talk about politics in a completely new way – to engage and inspire without talking down.

What can we expect from the show? Is it a comedy? 

Nobody wants to spend a Saturday afternoon in a lecture. Except lecturers, probably! The show is all about joy, laughter and voting. It’s about empowering young people to know that their voice matters and how they can use it.

What to expect? A basic understanding of how there are competing ideologies and different solutions to the same problem. How politics is all about sharing your solution and fighting to make that happen. How we can be involved, and… the true worth of the work of Daniel Bedingfield.

Who is the show aimed at?  

The brochure says something about 6-12 year-olds. It’s really there for anyone who likes silliness, empowerment and sweets. Adults, siblings, pets… A member of the House of Lords congratulated me after the show. Grumpy teenagers usually break and start smiling roughly 20 mins in.

It’s for people who are already quite far down their journey into debate and change. It’s also for people who feel a little bit sick when they hear the word politics.

Why do kids think politics is boring?  

The message is so often that politics is something other people do. Boris Johnson and Kier Starmer arguing about something remote is, let’s face it, incredibly boring.

Kids are told about the importance of voting, but they’re not allowed to vote for another ten years. Ten years! Imagine being told about something you will need to do (but don’t have to do) in 2032! ‘It’s really important, yeah? Because 100 years ago the suffragettes did amazing things, right?’  Pleeeease! That ain’t gonna cut it.

But politics isn’t stuffy. It isn’t confined to a small room with green benches. It isn’t confined to other people. It’s alive and it’s all around us. It’s creative. It’s full of hope. It’s meaningful and it involves young people right now.

How can parents get their kids more engaged in politics?  

Talk! Who gets to decide what’s on the TV, or what’s for dinner, or what happens in the classroom? Why do those people get to make the decisions? How do they make those decisions? What can be done by those who don’t get to make those decisions but have strong opinions?

Ask them what problems need solving? Climate change? Homelessness? The inescapable presence of Michael McIntyre on Saturday night TV…? How would they solve those problems? Why are their ideas good? How can they make their solutions a reality?

And, never, EVER make them watch anything from Westminster.

How do you tackle the more scary stuff (particularly in light of recent news)?  

There are bad things out there. Scary things. They’re unavoidable sometimes and that’s a reality. If your young people are used to discussing politics, discussing choices, understanding that there are people with whom they disagree, they will be more able to deal with this stuff. We can’t hide them away and shelter them from the storm, as much as we’d like to. Conversation, openness, light touch and preparation is all we can do.

What do you hope audiences will take home with them from the show? 

Something to talk about. It’s the opening of a conversation, not a discreet one-hour show that’s forgotten about over an ice cream on the way home. We want them to be thinking: What is the best way to distribute things if there isn’t enough to go round easily?; Why did Tiernan not do any of the things that Tatton asked him to do?; How can I be the change I want to see in the world?

The great thing about these conversations is that they spread from one person to another. Curiosity breeds curiosity. Empowerment breeds empowerment. Conversations breed conversations.

Simple Politics is coming to Watford Palace Theatre on 23 April. Book here.

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